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The Weekly Spark | Leadership and Career Advice / Management / Motivation / Office Life - Ben Fanning - Burnout Specialist
11 minutes | Jan 21, 2015
Three Questions You MUST Answer Before Quitting
I was inspired recently when someone in Quit Alternative Training Academy sheepishly asked: “I know this isn’t very ‘Quit Alternative‘ of me…but my organization just offered a severance package for those who want to quit. Should I stay or quit and take the severance? Great Question! First off, no matter where you go in your career the mission is always the same…create the job you love. (tweet this). Staying on this mission is so incredibly important because its empowering and keeps you in the driver’s seat of your career. Secondly, even with a severance package its crucial to answer three questions before quitting. Answer these first and you’ll: Know you’re making the right decision to stay or leave Save yourself a lot of stress and money Maybe even earn a new car 1. What’s Your Real Cost of Quitting? To put things in perspective, you could buy a new car ($31,252 according to USA Today), with the money it takes to quit and get a job. And while your cost of quitting could be a little different depending on your situation (I walk you through your personal calculation in the course), but the same cost factors apply to everyone: Your time looking for new job Perks like accumulated vacation time, seniority, vesting Delays in promotion and raises at your new job Transition stress from a new office, routine, commute, community etc… Starting over and proving yourself in a new environment Of course, this comparison doesn’t mean you should never consider quitting. It just shows the importance of taking care with the decision just like you would with a big financial investment…like buying a car. 2. What’s the Return on Investment of Doubling your Effort where You are? Considering your real cost of quitting, it’s important to calculate the return if you invested more of yourself into your work day. What if you took your current job with all it’s imperfections and turned it into an opportunity to bring out your personal best? Investing in your current job could deliver a better return than moving on even with the severance when it’s all said and done. Areas to consider: Promotion with an opportunity to make an even bigger impact Raise with more money for more value added Doing more soul filling work with activities you enjoy A reinvention of your role at work. This is a chance to break free if you’ve felt ‘pigeonholed’ in the past…maybe even a new job within your current organization – An opportunity to lead a new exciting project More schedule flexibility such as working from home one day per week or work a different set of hours to make your work day more enjoyable Expand your skills by pursuing training in an interest area When you consider this question it often re-frames your current job frustration from: How can I afford to stay? to How can I afford not to? 3. What does Your Dream Job Look Like? This seems like it’s the easiest question to answer, but it’s often the most challenging. It’s also the one that gets skipped in the “stay or leave” discussion. This requires introspection and strong consideration of what you really want versus what others (society, family, and friends) might be whispering in your ear. If you don’t know what your dream job looks like, then you’re destined to never find it. The consequence is that you might quit and then end up in another job that’s not very motivating. I know because I’ve been there. Also, if you answer this question first you may begin to discover pieces of of your dream job within your current work day. Or if you decide to quit…instead of running away from a job you’re frustrated with…you’ll be running toward something you’re really exciting about. If you’re struggling to answer this question, schedule a time with me to get a clear picture of what you’re ideal job looks like and you’ll receive a 3-step plan to get you there. These Three Questions can Help You Right Now Even if you’re not considering quitting, answering the questions can help you create the job you love and experience more job satisfaction today. Try blocking out 10 minutes on your calendar, write these three questions down at the top of page, then begin brainstorming. To creating the job you love! Ben PS: Create the job you love now by ordering my book “The Quit Alternative: The Blueprint for Creating the Job You Love…without quitting.”The post Three Questions You MUST Answer Before Quitting first appeared on Ben Fanning.
17 minutes | Dec 30, 2014
Why You Must Take Control of Your Professional Development
Take control of your own professional development. Leaving your professional development up to your boss or organization is risky because: They may never invest in it. They may guess wrong in terms of where you’d like to develop. They may only provide it in limited doses…when there’s a new organizational initiative or when a you get a bad annual review. It’s too important for you to leave in the hands of others, and the good news is that taking control is much easier than you think. Professional Development is a Two-Way Street Depending on your organization to dole out professional development is like turning your monthly budgeting over to your financial advisor or turning over your entire well being to your physician. Sure, their input is helpful; but you own the outcome. It’s your money, your health, and your career. No one will ever care as much about the outcome as you do. Yet time and again this relinquishing of control plays out… Look at your calendar now. Is there a professional development course or training that you’ve personally signed up for, or is your development limited to what’s flowed through the organization’s online learning management library? There’s nothing wrong with pursuing the training that your organization assigns; but if that’s it for you, my premise is that you’re missing something very important. Ideally, professional development is a “two way street.” It has a positive impact on your performance for the organization as well as your own professional growth. So take control where you can, identify mutually beneficial options, and reap the benefits of an improved professional development experience including: A significant return on investment for your organization, your boss, and yourself. Alignment with your organization’s goals as well as your own A comprehensive, enjoyable training versus one that feels like another trip to the dentist Try these three steps… Step 1: Choose Your Own Adventure The most common mistake people make is they don’t choose. Instead, get involved. Make a choice. Think of professional development as “choose your own adventure” whereas based on your situation, you get to decide where you grow next. Discover the professional work direction that excites. Then proactively make the linkage to your current job where you’d like to head in your career. Will you: Expand and develop in your current role? Move up in the organization? Move into a different role all together? Step 2: Explore the Options to Get You There Based upon the direction you choose in step 1, spend a few minutes exploring the options. There are several factors to consider: Convenient delivery method – Make sure that the training is delivered conveniently in a way you can get to it during your work schedule. On-going support for your development – Consider how you’ll get your questions answered and if there is a way to connect directly with the person teaching the training for additional support. Return on investment – When you invest you own money and time as well as that of the organization, calculate the return. Engagement factor – Professional development should be a “get to”, not a “have to”. Ensure that the training is engaging enough to hold your interest and keep you coming back to learn more. Step 3: Initiate the Conversation Instead of waiting for the boss to tell you the best place for your growth, initiate the conversation yourself. Share your personal vision and propose some ways your organization could support you. Why not start the conversation with your boss on how they can support you with money and/or time? If they aren’t able to support you financially, perhaps they’ll provide the time for your to pursue it. If neither of the those are available, consider the professional development that’s high enough impact for you to pursue after work hours. To taking control of your professional development! Ben PS: It’s not too late to enroll in Quit Alternative Training Academy…professional development for creating the job you love. The post Why You Must Take Control of Your Professional Development first appeared on Ben Fanning.
10 minutes | Dec 2, 2014
When’s the Best Time for Your Professional Development
So when’s the best time for your professional development? Most people I meet agree that professional development is important but often they can’t find a “good” time. It’s easy to put it off because there are almost always more pressing needs of the company, boss, friends, and family. But there’s one specific time of year you can often bank on for your own professional development. It can be used to: Build upon your strengths Prepare your next career move Expand your perspective beyond the day-to-day Grind I’m happy to share this golden time I discovered a few years ago. The “Golden Time” for Your Professional Development I used to work in logistics for the largest sporting goods retailer in the US. I often suffered through a great deal of work and stress leading up to any major holiday. We had very tight deadlines to get the products on the shelves, and any disruption could mean disappointed customers and lost sales. This holiday stress was particularly rough for the big two… Black Friday and Christmas I’d find myself constantly checking my email as the workload came to a crescendo; then the week after the holiday we’d scramble to replenish the stores. But the week after that was a major opportunity. It was a “golden” week because it was the best time to catch up on all the work I’d been putting off. Also it was the time to invest in my own professional development. I looked forward to it so much that it helped me keep going during the weeks leading up to the holiday push. Create Your Own Professional Development Time This week became so important to me that I curated what I wanted to do very carefully. I’d often plan on reading a book or taking a course for my own professional development. This is a habit I still have today. In fact the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day last year, I dove into the subject of writing a book which supported my biggest project of the year. Previous years I used this time to: Explore my personal strengths Boost my negotiating skills Begin a new coach training program I’ve had clients: Read a book of a different genre than they normally read. “The Alchemist” frequently comes up as a good one! Watch several inspiring movies. I recommend “Salmon Fishing in Yemen“. Try Yoga Sky dive (I’m not endorsing this one but would love to hear about it if you did it) This applies to you even if you don’t have a major holiday push at your company. Maybe your golden time for professional development shows up between major projects or presentations. No matter what your personal interests may be, I encourage you to take a minute and consider: When is that golden time for your own professional development? What kind of professional development would interest you most? To Your own Professional Development! Ben PS: If you haven’t heard, I’ve got a book out that you can order now for just the cost of shipping and handling. This could be an excellent option for your golden week:) If you’re interested in an inspiring course to get your year started off on the right foot.The post When's the Best Time for Your Professional Development first appeared on Ben Fanning.
13 minutes | Sep 30, 2014
How to Experience Job Satisfaction Every Day
Job satisfaction is often fleeting. I noticed this for the first time when my job satisfaction was at its peak. I rolled into my annual review feeling like I’d nailed it. The boss acknowledged my performance but quickly followed with a comment that immediately cut my job satisfaction in half… “It’s not about what you’ve done, it’s about what have you done for me lately”. They weren’t satisfied, so I wouldn’t be satisfied. This haunted me for months. Ever been there? Because the Company “Can’t Get No Satisfaction” The system most of us work in is based on a cycle of “Can’t Get No Satisfaction”. They want more. You deliver more. They want more again. While this might sound like a downer, it isn’t necessarily bad. In fact it’s pushed me to work harder, move beyond my comfort zone, and reach goals that I previously thought were unattainable. You can see how this has motivated years of company production and innovation. Consider the iPhone and Windows. What would have happen if Steve Jobs and Bill Gates declared “mission accomplished”? Think we’d ever get the touch screen? While this approach yields company results it doesn’t help your personal job satisfaction very much. In fact it makes it a lot harder. If your customers, boss, and coworker will never be completely satisfied, how can you be? Own Your Job Satisfaction There’s only one way to consistently experience job satisfaction….own it yourself. Owning your job satisfaction puts you in control of your peace of mind, helps you sleep better at night, and prevents burnout. Here are three steps for owning your own job satisfaction: Define your personal condition of satisfaction. Establish what “satisfaction” looks like. How do you know a good job when you’ve done one? You can define this by filling in the following…“I will be satisfied when _________”. Are you waiting around from someone else to tell you? No need for that anymore Stretch. Make your condition of satisfaction something you stretch to achieve. Take what you wrote in the template above and turn it up just a notch. This ensures your own personal growth as well as makes progress towards your employer’s goals. Declare satisfaction when you get there. If you don’t acknowledge it, you’re waiting around on someone else to — totally unpredictable. Fill out the following…“I will celebrate by________”. Here are two scenario’s where you can apply these steps… Scenario #1 – Being Worked to Death (aka working for someone with no clear condition of satisfaction) This is when your boss wants more, and you find yourself thinking about work 24 hours a day without an off switch. Set your own condition of satisfaction – Give yourself a shortened time frame (3 to 5 days). Select a project milestone or an assignment you’re working on. Ask yourself “What could I realistically complete in that time frame and be satisfied with”? Stretch – To make it more of stretch, think how it would be if you stretched that condition of satisfaction 5% farther than you thought was possible. Note this is just to push you a tiny bit outside of your comfort zone, not stress you out. Declare satisfaction – Set a reminder on your calender 3-5 days out to check-in if you’ve met your condition of satisfaction. If you have, declare it complete and have a mini-celebration. If not, just tweak (not judge) your approach and revisit step #1. Amp this up: Try having a conversation with your boss to clarify their condition of satisfaction for the job you’re doing. Scenario #2 -Working Yourself to Death (aka working without clarity of your own condition of satisfaction.) This is when you’re starting to question why you’re working so much. You’d like to start leaving the office a little earlier so you could hit the gym and have more time with your friends and family. BUT there’s just so much work to do. Set your own condition of satisfaction – Work isn’t going anywhere. What does “enough for today” look like? How many days in a week could you leave a bit early? Stretch – If you felt satisfied with the work you’d done for today, consider what other parts of life could you improve your satisfaction. Declare satisfaction – Some people might interpret leaving early as “slacking off” but you and I know that it takes a lot of effort, intention, and even courage. If you can get out of the office early twice in a week, then time to celebrate, right? Amp this up: Discuss your condition of satisfaction to leave early from work with your boss and coworkers. Ask for their support in helping you fulfill it. Time to Own Your Job Satisfaction Now take these 3 steps and try them in your work day. Notice how you have the power to boost your own job satisfaction. Ben PS: Found this motivating? Please open your email and send this to two of your coworkers. PPS: Get a weekly dose of humor and motivation sent right to your inbox by entering your name and email below. Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you The post How to Experience Job Satisfaction Every Day first appeared on Ben Fanning.
18 minutes | Sep 10, 2014
What I Learned about Motivation from Writing a Book
How to stay motivated… Ever had a project you knew was extremely important but couldn’t stay motivated long enough to get it done? I was extremely motivated to begin writing my book, and I charged out of the gate following my project plan. But, staying motivated long enough to finish has been much more difficult. As Chief Burnout Officer I often help others with burnout, but I have to watch myself most of all. I’m a full time coach, consultant, employee, husband, and father to a 3 year old. The most productive time I have to work on my book is between 5-7 am every morning. Once my daughter wakes up I’m in Dad mode. Once the emails start flying and the phone rings I’m in day job mode. Although sometimes it’s been a struggle, it’s been amazing how much I’ve learned about motivation during the process. I’m delighted to share three important lessons I’ve learned that can help you stay motivated on any “marathon” project you’re facing: While it’s important to start a project with motivation, it’s equally important to have a plan to sustain it. The shortest path to staying motivated starts with a personal reason ‘why’. If you learn to sustain your motivation, you can accomplish things you never thought were possible. Motivation is Your Reason for Taking Action The dictionary defines motivation as “a reason to take action or work”, so by having a strong “reason” you’ve got a powerful stimulus to take action and approach your day with more enthusiasm. Over time though, you’ll often find “the reason” isn’t enough to keep going and your motivation can start to dwindle. It’s like becoming numb to the stimulus of those early big motivators like money, title, atta-boys, putting money away for the kid’s tuition, etc… Even going a step further, when I started writing this book I drew my motivation from envisioning the people I wanted to impact…my coworkers, a future generation of employees, and my daughter when she’s old enough to start considering her own career. I still find these to be motivating reasons to finish the book but truthfully they aren’t enough for the biggest projects. My inner critic says “they should be”, but they just don’t get it done in your darkest moments. They don’t sustain because they’re external motivators. Instead go deeper. Ask… “Why is it important for Me?” As soon as I considered this question, I grabbed my journal and spent all morning writing about it. It boiled down to these reasons for me: Achieve what I thought was impossible To do more of the work I love I’m the kind of guy who finishes what I start More…clarity, impact, beauty, satisfaction, connection Although I noticed my motivation slowly returning, I knew there was one more critical factor in staying motivated. Creating a Motivating Reminder Once you have your deeper, personal reasons identified, you’ll want an easy way to remember them…especially when unexpected challenges arise. Here’s my own personal reminder for my book project that helped me stay motivated. It’s taped beside my desk. Five Steps to Stay Motivated You can quickly develop your own personal strategy to stay motivated. Start with these five steps: Make it project specific – Identify an important project that you’d like to sustain your motivation for. Schedule time – Block out time on your calendar to reflect on ‘why’ you’re working on the project in the first place. Answer ‘the’ Question – Answer “Why is the project important to me?” Make it about You – Focus on identifying internal reasons versus external motivators. Create your reminder: – Try taping a reminder above your desk, setting a recurring reminder on your calendar, or putting one on the dashboard of your car. Try these steps to stay motivated for your next project. Notice the difference it makes! Ben PS: I’m “motivated” to share more about my upcoming book soon. Stay tuned! PPS: Get a weekly dose of humor and motivation sent right to your inbox by entering your name and email below. Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you The post What I Learned about Motivation from Writing a Book first appeared on Ben Fanning.
15 minutes | Aug 15, 2014
How to Increase Creativity in 10 Minutes
Here’s an easy way to increase creativity… Before asking for help on a problem from your boss, coworkers, or even going to Google; force yourself to think of 3 possible solutions no matter how off-the-wall they may be. Practicing this approach will most definitely increase your creativity. While this lesson has been incredibly helpful to me in my career, I had to learn it the hard way — suffering through a verbal lashing from my boss and having him blow cigarette smoke in face. It was kind of a Cool Hand Luke experience, just with air conditioning. Read on to see what I mean. The Day My Creativity Increased I’d just gotten hired, and my boss was already sick of me asking for his help. He was our company wiseman. People said he knew “where all the bodies were buried” and there was frequently a line of fellow employees waiting outside his office to get his feedback on their own projects. This line only reinforced my own behavior as the enthusiastic sheep dog nipping at his heels wanting to engage and get my question answered too. One day I was struggling with another problem that had come across my desk, so I got in line for the 3rd time that day to ask him a question. When I finally made my way to the front of the line, I walked into the boss’ office. I could tell from his red face that he wasn’t happy I showed up again. Then he slowly lit a cigarette, which of course wasn’t allowed, but he didn’t care. He said: “Fanning, I don’t want you to ever come in here again with a problem unless you’ve thought of 3 potential solutions. I don’t care how crazy they are!” Then for extra emphasis he blew a big cloud of cigarette smoke right in my face. I gagged, left the office stunned and humiliated, then watched as the next person walked in with a question. What a worthless boss (or so I thought). He’s the boss, shouldn’t he have the answers? Creativity is the Real Job Until that moment, I’d been working under the assumption that I’d been hired to do as I was told. But what I learned that day, triggered a deep shift within me. I discovered that my job was something much different than was written in my job description. My job was to create. It was to create new opportunities for myself, my boss, and the company. If I wasn’t creating, I was just another cog in the wheel. My rather crotchety boss was trying to send that very message in an unforgettable way. Even though it was a hard lesson to learn, I felt excited about the new possibility for my job and even my career. Increasing Your Creativity is Valuable because Creativity is Scarce Want career longevity? Want job security? Want a promotion? Want a line outside your office? Want a life way cooler than what you have now? Increase your creativity. The reason that creativity leads to all these benefits is pretty simple….it’s scarce. You see we’ve got a surplus of people doing as they’re told, protecting the status quo, and doing things like they’ve always done them. But there’s still plenty of demand for people who can deliver new possibilities. Often what leads to all of these isn’t having THE answer or THE solution. It’s just having the creative capability to generate new possibilities. Creativity and new possibilities are scarce, thus insanely valuable. What You Can Do to Increase Your Creativity You can increase your creativity now, and it doesn’t even require enrolling in an art class or joining a drum circle (Although I’m sure those could be helpful). Start now by focusing your creativity on a small slice of problems plaguing the office or maybe something you’re facing personally. Next, make a conscious decision to have a little fun with it. Give yourself permission to generate 3 potential solutions by sitting quietly and letting your mind run wild. You’ll be amazed at how good you can get at this with a little practice. Increase Your Creativity in 10 Minutes All this translates into some real steps you can use to increase your creativity. Try this quick 10 minutes exercise around a challenge you’ve been struggling with. It’s eloquently called the “Brain Dump”. Block out 10 minutes on your calendar Write down one problem you’d like to channel your creativity towards at the top of piece of paper. Set the timer on your phone for 10 minutes Write like crazy about that problem and any ideas that come to mind for 10 minutes non-stop. When the timer goes off, stop writing. Pull out 3 nuggets that were generated over those 10 minutes. Share those creative nuggets with someone else. See what happens next. Maybe your ideas build on one another. Back to the Story When I started forcing myself to think of 3 possible solutions before I brought a problem to my boss, my creativity took off. My boss was a lot happier with me, and after awhile I noticed a line beginning to form outside my cubicle. It can for you too To increasing your creativity! Ben PS: Get a weekly dose of humor and motivation sent right to your inbox by entering your name and email below. Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you The post How to Increase Creativity in 10 Minutes first appeared on Ben Fanning.
11 minutes | Aug 7, 2014
One Question that Gags Your Inner Critic
That critical inner voice — “Who do you think you are?” I was trembling, getting ready to go in front of my first group as Chief Burnout Officer. I’d given lots of presentations at the office and to clients before, but this one felt a lot more personal. I was helping people create the job they love..a personal mission I really believe in. It seemed like there was a lot on the line for me at the time, although I was probably over hyping it in my mind…anxiety will do that. I remember a critical inner voice appearing in my head asking, “I’m I really ready for this?” “What if I mess up?”. This critical inner voice was yelling, “Really?”. It triggered a sweat, which is impossible to hide with a bald head. I even noticed a tightening in my body. Suddenly there seemed to be a lot at stake – my ego. Ever heard that voice before? Choose to Ask the Question that Empowers I’m not going to get all Eckhart Tolle, Power of Now, on you; but I realized that the voice in my head wasn’t something I wanted to listen to or at least not for very long. Some people call this voice the inner critic or inner gremlin. I didn’t care, I just wanted it to shut-up so I could get down to business. So instead of letting the doubting voice continue to run wild with critical questions, I consciously chose to ask a different question….a question that empowers. and conquers the inner critical voice. “How does this serve others?” It was amazing how this instantly calmed my nerves, silenced that critical inner voice, and helped me focus on the mission at hand. And I still call on it today. Asking myself this question effectively took the spotlight off me and shifted it to the crowd. When I remembered the essence of my presentation was to serve others and not feed or protect my own ego, the bigger picture came clearly into focus. I felt connected to ‘Why’ I was doing this presentation in the first place. Suddenly I felt looser, confident, and more determined that ever. The trembling stopped and it felt like “game time” versus “game-set-match”. Keeping the Focus on Serving has Universal Benefits Turns out this question can help in a lot of different places. When you’re stuck on big project – Ever found yourself stuck big project that’s going on forever? The critical inner voice might say, “milk it a little longer” or “it’s not good enough yet”. Try asking how is this project serving other? Auditioning for American Idol – What are you going to role model for America? The inner critic says, “you need more practice”. How is more practice really serving others (although I agree that practice is s good thing). Is your singing all about you or the people you’re giving it as a gift too? Ask my friend Elise Testone. Got a big tennis match – The critical inner voice says, “why are you playing a match when you’re not even practicing?” Respond with asking, “Who am I really playing for?” Does a win even matter or is it more important to play for health’s sake so you be more productive and around for your friends and family? Make the Connection to Serving Others No Matter the Situation Admittedly within organizations, it can sometimes be hard to stomach this question, especially if you feel like you’re only serving your boss. In that case it might not be that calming for you particularly if you don’t like your boss. Even when you’ve got to dig a little bit, it’s useful to ask “how does this serve others?.” Try looking a few steps a head. Maybe by serving the needs of the boss or organization your life reach others in some way…like supporting a charity organization, spending time with your family, or working on a passion side project. These are all things that serve others, just once removed. You can still make the connection and silence the inner critic. Remind Yourself to Focus on Serving Write this question down on a post-it note and put it somewhere where you can’t miss it. Then the next time you’ve got a presentation or audition on American Idol, you’ll have something useful to support you even if the inner critic shows up. To serving others! Ben PS: Get a weekly dose of humor and motivation sent right to your inbox by entering your name and email here. Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you The post One Question that Gags Your Inner Critic first appeared on Ben Fanning.
12 minutes | Jul 25, 2014
How to Build Your Most Supportive Community
I’ve always been a sociable guy. I love to meet new people and after years of working in organizations I’ve built a robust corporate network including almost 10,000 LinkedIn connections…if you count that sort of thing. Despite this network though, there was a gap. You see I was supporting others, but I didn’t have the community established to support me. The consequence was that I was starting to lose momentum in my business and even getting a bit lonely. I learned that everyone needs two communities – the one you serve and one that supports you. So I began the search for a supportive community I could connect with who were all on a similar journey. Connect with the People that Inspire You That’s when I came across the course that I want to share with you today, Connect with Anyone. It’s helped me create the supportive community I was missing for the longest time. Now I have an encouraging group of amazing people on a similar path. We still meet periodically and even collaborate on projects. Also I’ve connected with people that are doing more of the work I’d like to be doing which has helped push me farther than I ever thought possible. It’s a course full of tips and interviews on how to connect with others, build your own community of support, and identify mentors that can offer guidance to help you along the way. It contains some amazing and entertaining stories you won’t forget like getting Warren Buffet to help you pick out an engagement ring, having an in office chat with Seth Godin, meeting with Jessica Biel, and even working your way onto a multimillionaire’s yacht for sunset cocktails. Most Powerful Connections are Intentionally Created There seems to be perspective that you have to be lucky or rich to have the “right” connections in life. While both certainly can be helpful, one of my biggest take-away’s from this course is that the most powerful connections and supportive relationships are intentionally created. This is a wonderfully empowering. This course gives you the strategies, how-to’s, and case studies so you can make that happen. But No One Can Do It For You Note that this is course doesn’t build the supportive community and connections for you. It’s like getting a warm introduction at a cocktail party where you’ve still got to invest the emotional labor of building the relationship. So learn the strategies and meet the amazing people inside this community but be prepared to take action. An Empowering Alternative to Networking…Connecting One last thing is that I’ve been to a lot of frustrating networking events in my career and find that most actually fail. They seem full of people talking but no one really connecting. One of the things I like most about this course is that it throws out the junk about business card swapping and “What do you do?” and provides the fundamentals of establishing real relationships that endure. One of the ideas I now use frequently from this course is that when you’re in a new a place don’t look a room as a bunch of strangers…only friends you haven’t met yet. I’ve had a lot more success at these events with this new approach. And by taking what I’ve learned from this course and applying it to my both my professional and personal life here are some of the results over the last year: Mastermind group that actually resonates on a personal Level – I’ve been in mastermind groups before but the relationships I’ve developed here have been on a much more meaningful level and have been supportive long after we finished the course. Relationships with mentors I’d only read about before – I felt more empowered to connect with people I’d only read about before like Chris Brogan, Pam Slim, Jonathan Mead, and Scott Dinsmore. A year ago I didn’t truly know any of them….now I call them my friends, and if you ask them I suspect they’d the same. I’m just getting started too:) Inspiring relationships in my hometown – The irony is that I have clients across the globe but didn’t have a supportive network in my own town. Now I’ve established an inspiring, supportive in person community right where I live, which has made a huge difference for me. I’ve also created another group where we workout with a trainer once a week (fitness and fun combined). So learn more about this course and let me know what you think. It could be the connection community you’ve been missing to take your career or business to the next level. If you have any questions let me know in the comments below, and I’d be happy to answer them. Cheers! Ben Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you The post How to Build Your Most Supportive Community first appeared on Ben Fanning.
11 minutes | Jul 9, 2014
One Question Successful Employees Always Answer (WIFM)
Ever strolled into the boss’ office, shared a big idea, then discovered it fell flat? Or ever put your heart and soul into a presentation but found the audience sleeping? It’s pretty easy to get frustrated in these situations. So today I’m offering a tip to boost your effectiveness and ease the frustration, but before I do…a quick story… I remember rolling out one of my first big projects– a 7 site ERP implementation in Latin America. It was failing because so few people actually cared. In fact they just saw it as making their work day harder, so the project just kind of limped along. Everyone eventually made it work but there were lots of short cuts taken which left significant gaps. I was in charge, and they were “supposed to listen”. I can remember venting to my boss ,”they just don’t get it”. “Can’t they see how big this is for the company?” I learned a valuable lesson that could have made this project much more successful. If I’d answered one important question first… Successful Employees Always Answer WIFM When you’re rolling out a project, writing an email, preparing a presentation you’ll experience a lot more success if you think about it first from the perspective of your audience. Assume you audience always want to know “What’s In It For Me?” (WIFM). In other words, the audience wants to know the benefit to themselves of listening or reading before they ever get to what you’re offering. I’ve tested this myself in conversations, emails, blogs, presentations, etc…and I can tell you that people will listen more closely, and you’ll achieve better results if you start by answering WIFM. Answer this question for your audience, and you’ll find: More receptivity and attention to your message – they’ll clearly understand what you’re providing as a benefit to them versus just doing you a favor. Increased willingness to help – In helping you they help themselves Broader support – People are usually more willing to share and build support for an idea when they can relay the benefit to others. See how those bullets above are the WIFM for you reading this article today Why WIFM Works So Well WIFM has been used effectively by marketers for years because it works so well. It works because marketers know that we humans try to understand how what we hear benefits us. We often do this unconsciously but think back to the last article you read then took the next step and shared. What was it that made you share it? Probably something related to how helpful it was. The clearly understood the benefit. The reality is that if we can’t seem to make the connection between what we’re hearing or reading and our own personal benefit, then we often just check out or start drifting off to something that does. So take the guess work out and tell them exactly how what you’re saying, doing, or offering helps them. Everyday Scenarios to Wield Your WIFM It might seem a little strange at first but realize you can use WIFM in your daily work in many different scenarios. Get your emails read. Insert WIFM into your first 2-3 sentences. Bonus points if you work it into the email reference line. Get your boss to listen. If you’ve got an idea to share, start the conversation by answering the WIFM for them and the company first (you last). Engage your audience. Include WIFM in the first few powerpoint slides so it’s clear to your audience. Here’s more on how to apply it. Four Ways to Win with WIFM and Get Better Results You can even think a little bigger and apply WIFM to your role, career, and even a project you’d like to work on. Try this. #1 Have a new idea to transform your role? WIFM: Answer how does this make the boss’ life easier. #2 Want to stop doing a seemingly meaningless report? WIFM: Answer how it frees your time up to make a bigger contribution somewhere else. #3 Want to skip a weekly meeting? WIFM: Answer what you’ll be doing instead that will make an impact. #4 Want to get funding for a cool project? WIFM: Answer what’s the return on investment for the organization? Now try one of these WIFM strategies in your work day. Notice the results! So what’s your story of applying WIFM at work? Please share in the comments below. To Igniting Your Work Day! Ben Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you The post One Question Successful Employees Always Answer (WIFM) first appeared on Ben Fanning.
13 minutes | Jun 18, 2014
Why You Can Always Think Like a Marketer
Interested in more success at work? Then try marketing to your boss and coworkers. This might seem a little weird at first, but realize I don’t mean starting your next staff meeting like a used car salesmen or auctioneer. Simply start thinking like a marketer, and you’ll soon reap these benefits: More effective communication Increased openness to your ideas Greater acceptance of your requests The Mindset of an Employee versus a Marketer In corporate we love to rely on job titles and organizational authority to get things done. This shows up whenever someone at a higher level in the organization asks (makes) someone else at a lower level to do something…for example when the CEO tells a a manager to implement a new system or program. This can be effective short term especially in a crisis when every second counts. But when its used repeatedly, this approach starts to lose it’s power. On the other hand, marketers don’t rely on job titles. They rely on persuasion and connecting on a personal level to compel others to take action. Over time, they establish trust which makes them even more effective at making an impact at work. Now, imagine someone invites you to an optional lunch-and-learn or to a fun happy hour. You don’t attend because you have to…you attend because you want to. Consider if you had the same excitement and engagement to attend the weekly staff meeting or roll out a new initiative? That’s what marketing to your boss and coworkers can do. Increase Your Success by Adopting a Marketing Mindset even if You’re the Janitor Although job titles and organizational structures aren’t going away any time soon, adopting a marketing mindset can improve your success in any job. In fact, I’ve been sitting here trying to imagine a single job where marketing isn’t crucial for staying sane, making an impact with less effort, and long term success….and I can’t think of a single one. Maybe a janitor? Nope. A janitor makes their own job easier not by explaining how everyone can help them… They do it by explaining the benefits to everyone else. The life of a janitor isn’t easy but doing a little marketing can make it better. How will anyone ever appreciate or even acknowledge the janitor’s work if they don’t explain how their work makes it easy for you to come into the office and get right to work without worrying about cleaning up the coffee spill and crumbs from yesterday’s lunch? How does the janitor get everyone to put the trash can outside their office doors? Not by telling them to. They just explain how it 100% guarantees that the trash get’s taken out, any funky smelling smells are removed, and how they will have a nice, fresh trash bag waiting on them upon their arrival the next day. How to Become a Better Marketer at Work Try adding a few simple marketing techniques to your own work day and notice how much more effective you can be: Start with what’s it in for them – Before you walk into a staff meeting or write an email, consider how your request, idea, or program benefits your audience. Jot down a few ideas and share them early on in your communication. For an example revisit the top of this article…” More effective communication, Increased openness to your ideas, Greater acceptance of your requests.” All stuff this benefits YOU. Identify a call to action – In your own communication, be specific about what you would like others to do. So many meetings, calls, emails, etc… leave the audience hanging on what’s next. Start including this at the end of all your communication. Share with them what you would like them to do. Notice at the end of this email how I’m asking you to share your own personal marketing strategies. Test and tweak – Marketers test and tweak the process as they go a long. It can take some time to perfect your approach to your boss and coworkers but keep going and you’ll start to notice the results. So what marketing strategies do you use to get stuff done during your work day? Please share in the comments below. Ben Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you The post Why You Can Always Think Like a Marketer first appeared on Ben Fanning.
13 minutes | May 28, 2014
3 Steps to Give Yourself a Job Promotion
There’s little more frustrating then waiting on a job promotion. In fact, the very definition of a getting a job promotion is a source of pain — “the action of raising someone to a higher position or rank”. This definition shows the essence of the problem – a job promotion is something done to you. While you certainly can influence whether or not you get a job promotion, the reality is that a job promotion isn’t within your control…at least until now. Job Promotions have a Lot of Problems But before I talk about the solution, let’s dive into the problems with job promotion. Here are three that scratch the surface: Scarcity – Job promotions are scarce. You can’t climb the corporate ladder if there are others standing on the very next rung. There used to be an abundance of jobs so if you worked hard or just worked long enough you’d move up by default into the next position. Now with people living and working longer than ever before it’s hard to see where your job promotion will come from. Extra Baggage – Job promotions often come with a lot of baggage. The promotion opportunities might only be available in the most difficult and frustrating areas that have a high turnover already, or maybe the job promotion is only available in an area that doesn’t play to your strengths. So when you’ve got a job promotion opportunity you’re faced with less than ideal decision to take a promotion for the sake of more money or a bigger title or stay put…kind of a Catch-22. Uncertain Money – Promotions don’t always mean more money. This is especially true if you’ve worked yourself into the upper part of your current job band where you may already be close to your salary if you were promoted. But the Biggest Problem with Getting a Job Promotion Is Waiting to Get Picked The biggest problem with getting a job promotion though is the waiting around to get picked. After you’ve put in a few years at a company it can start to feel like you’re the kid standing on the sidelines waiting to get called into the bigger game. This can take a long time, or it may never come. Instead of Waiting on a Job Promotion – Promote Yourself So instead of waiting on a job promotion, consider promoting yourself. “Promoting yourself” is when you identify opportunities to make a bigger impact outside of your job description, then you take action. It increases your value to your organization exponentially as well as loads your annual review with powerful going-above-and-beyond successes. It also results in a much more interesting and exciting work day, and helps you make a bigger contribution regardless of your job title. The best part though is that promoting yourself can lead to a job promotion handed down from your organization even faster. Giving Yourself a Job Promotion Involves Initiative Giving yourself a job promotion looks like: The logistics analyst that identifies a major problem and takes time to calculate the impact for the entire organization, then calls an urgent meeting with peers as well as more senior leaders. The HR Director who tackles the deepest problems in Operations because she sees a leadership void. The government program leader who volunteers to lead the interview committee now that his coworker is leaving for another job. The common ingredient in all of these examples is that they show up at work in the mindset that the own the place…a lot like an employeepreneur. 3 Steps to Giving Yourself a Job Promotion Give yourself a job promotion by following these 3 steps: Bust through the Limiting Belief – Challenge the belief that you have to wait on a job promotion to make a bigger impact. Don’t limit yourself because its “not your job”. Discover Your Opportunity – Brainstorm a list of opportunities by asking yourself these questions. What’s the problem plaguing everyone at the office? What do you frequently hear your coworkers complaining about? What’s the biggest problem costing the organization? Then, spend a little time calculating how much the pain is costing your boss and organization, as well as the benefit if you solve it. Start a Project…not a Responsibility – Start solving the problem by creating a mini-project around it. Instead of owning the whole thing and absorbing all the responsibility, try creating a supportive team. Take some pressure off by building support from your coworkers. Promote yourself by trying these three steps above. See how it impacts your workday. So what’s your story about getting a job promotion? Please share in the comments below. Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you Photo creditThe post 3 Steps to Give Yourself a Job Promotion first appeared on Ben Fanning.
16 minutes | May 20, 2014
When Your Coworker Leaves and Your Workload Doubles
Imagine you’re swamped and in the middle of preparing to leave on vacation. Then, suddenly in walks your trusted coworker who’s going to be filling in for you while you’re out. He sits down and discloses… I’ve got another job opportunity. You respond with a congratulations, then a forced smile. Then the LC shock (“lost coworker” shock) starts to set-in. Things were working out great, and you’ve always had each others back no matter what. You hoped it’d last forever…or at least until you moved on. Then he had to go and screw it up by finding another job. How could he leave? How could he do this to you? The resentment and anger begin to seep-in. Then, you realize the harsh reality… Your workload is going to double. Arrrrrgh! Time to rethink this. The Usual Solution Leads to Job Burnout My client, Patricia, (I’m protecting her identity by not sharing her last name) works for a Fortune 1000 company and recently faced this situation. Her coworker of 6 years left the team and suddenly her workload doubled literally overnight. She’s been mourning the good ole’ days ever since. She depended on him to share the workload, back her up when she was out on vacation, and even hit the occasional happy hour to blow off off some steam. Now that he’s gone, she’s feeling a bit left behind and overwhelmed by the work load. The toughest pill to swallow though is that he’s been gone for over 3 months and hasn’t been replaced. Her boss asked her to “be a team player”and take on the extra workload temporarily. At first, she did so willingly but now it seems like everyone is content with the way things are…accept for her. She’s stressing and loosing sleep like never before. She’s defaulted to the solution that most people do….suck it up and work harder and longer. This strategy is a recipe for burnout. There’s a better way. A Better Solution than Quitting She considered quitting, but now she’s decided to stay and make things better. Besides, it’s not like this same situation couldn’t happen somewhere else. As her coach, Patricia and I worked together to make a few tweaks to her work day. It’s just been a few weeks and she’s already feeling more motivated about heading into work. She’s even sleeping better now on Sunday nights…which gets her week started off on a much better foot. 5 Survival Tips when Your Coworker Leaves and Your Workload Doubles Here are the five of the survival tips that have helped Patricia improve her work day. You can use them to improve your own and share them with a colleague who needs a lift. #1 Stop “should’ing on yourself” Notice when the voice in your head says “I should be handling this better” or “I should have this already worked this out”. Then make a conscious decision to show yourself some compassion. Patricia was “should’ing all over herself and using it to beat herself up. By noticing the voice, she began to have more patience. She recognized that when a team member leaves it’s often going to be disruptive and it can take some time to work though this. #2 Do the 1BT Clarify and prioritize the “1 Big Thing” or your biggest priority on your to-do list. Start by getting clear on what your 1BT is for the day by asking yourself: What would make my work day worthwhile if I got just this 1 thing done? This question has helped me immensely over the years when I’m feeling overwhelmed. It’s also gave Patrica a greater sense of control and satisfaction. Next, get your 1BT done as early as you can. This helps you start your day with a sense of purpose and helps you build momentum to face a heavy workload. Make a reminder for yourself by writing “1BT” on a post-it note and putting it on your computer screen to remind yourself to try this exercise daily. #3 Bookend your work day When your workload doubles, you can literally work non-stop and still not complete everything. It’s tempting to work until you’re exhausted, but it’s better to pace yourself recognizing that corporate life is more a marathon than a sprint. “Bookend” your work day (like bookends on a shelf) but putting a hard start and stop time. Being a salaried employee doesn’t mean you have to work around the clock. Clarify work hour expectations with your boss and set a specific time for work and non-work hours. Amp up this exercise by asking your boss and coworkers to hold you accountable. By sticking to this, you’ll give yourself my down time to recharge. This change helped Patricia feel a lot less tired at the end the day and helped her start her morning with a lot more energy and focus. #4 Introduce a new conversation When you’re forecasting that more work is heading your way, proactively schedule a few minutes with your boss. Use it as an opportunity to discuss your own workload as well as how you address their priorities as well as those of the organization. Although Patricia never discussed her own workload with her boss in the past, this new conversation reduced a lot of friction and laid the ground work for experiencing more success. Afterwards she felt more in sync with her team and boss and rested easier knowing that she was getting the most important work completed. #5 Curate your coworkers Wouldn’t you like to choose who you work with? Volunteer to get involved or even lead the interview process for your coworkers replacement. This could also be a great opportunity to modify your own job description to make it a more satisfying fit for you. Although they still haven’t replaced Patricia’s coworker yet, she’s engaged in the interview process and experiencing less frustration and more enthusiasm for what the future holds. So what’s your story of a coworker leaving and the impact on your workload? How did you handle it? Please leave in the comment below. Ben PS: Found this helpful? Please open your email and forward this article to at least 2 friends. It’s inspiring! Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you Photo CreditThe post When Your Coworker Leaves and Your Workload Doubles first appeared on Ben Fanning.
11 minutes | May 12, 2014
5 Job Tweaks to Immediately Improve Your Work Day
Sometimes the job can get really frustrating and make you want to pull you hair out. Maybe you’re facing a job burnout situation and just want to start building some positive momentum. Or maybe you feel like a client of mine shared recently… “I need to run from my job like I’m running from a fire.” But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. You can make a few small changes to help turn this boat around! Making the Job Tweak to Improve Your Day Most people don’t see how they can improve their work day and still get the job done. It’s like making the necessary changes would require so much time and effort that its not worth it. So, they either do nothing…and everything remains status quo or, they can get overwhelmed as soon as they start and quickly lose their motivation. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just make a slight tweak to your workday to make it better? Nothing huge. Just a tweak. When I burned out, major changes seemed impossible. I didn’t feel like I could make a job shift and especially not a major career change. That’s when I decided to make a few small tweaks, that gave me bigger momentum to start tackling the big stuff. If you do these, it won’t solve everything but these tiny momentum builders can help you feel a lot better at the end of the day. #1 Set a light at the end of the tunnel Control the time you can control and make it something you can look forward to. Try scheduling a conversation with a friend or an outing with your family for the end work week. #2 Choose who you spend time with At work you can’t always choose who you spend time with, but when you can choose…choose. What seems to happen most times is that we fall into a routine of always have coffee and lunch with the same people even if they’re not very motivating or supportive. Consciously choose to spend time with people that are positive, and creative, and leave you feeling better than before you sat down with them. #3 Track your progress In a work environment where the pressure is on for producing more, its helpful to recognize and highlight how far you’ve have come. Take 5 minutes to track and record what you’ve accomplished. This can give you a dose of satisfaction and help you remember to celebrate the small wins. #4 Protect time Sometimes it can feel like you’re just hopping from meeting-to-meeting and that others are in more control of your calendar that you actually are. Look forward a few days on your calendar and actively block out 30 minutes to an hour solely for you. Dedicate that time to work on a project you’ve wanting to get to, schedule a conversation with someone you’ve interested in connecting with, or just get out of the office for short walk. #5 Help someone else Reach out and help someone. There is research by psychologist Adam Grant (the youngest, tenured profession at Wharton) that suggests there is karma from workplace altruism. If you help out a coworker, it helps build stronger social ties, then the positive behavior tends to come back to you. Co-workers often reciprocate your assistance by helping you. How’s that for improving your work day? Now select one of work day tweaks above, and try it today. Notice the difference. What tweaks have you tried in your work day? How did it help? Please add in the comments below. Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you The post 5 Job Tweaks to Immediately Improve Your Work Day first appeared on Ben Fanning.
13 minutes | May 5, 2014
3 Simple Steps to Turn Self-Doubt into Confidence
I know sometimes you doubt yourself. I know that you loose sleep sometimes when you’re taking on a bigger role at work, preparing an important presentation, or when your back is up against the wall with the looming deadline of an ambitiously large project. And I know the questions that probably come up in your head. Can I really do this? What if I fail? What if I make a mistake that cost me my job? Channeling the Self-Doubt into Something Helpful So today, I’m going to give you an alternative to help you channel all that self-doubt into something really helpful. I promise that all your self-doubt can be used to your advantage when you keep in mind just a few points. Trouble is that people, no matter how introspective or experienced they are, don’t stop to ask how their self-doubt can be used to their advantage when they feel it coming on. They just end up trying to ignore it or fight it. The average person doesn’t face the big role change or huge presentations every day or even every week, so when there is a biggie coming up it probably takes every ounce of energy and discipline to grind it out and get through it. But I’d like to change all that for you today. I’m going to share a technique that worked for me when I was preparing for an important presentation I made a little while back. I remember feeling sort of lost in space then start questioning myself. My self-doubt shook my confidence, kept me up at night, and started to zap the joy out of my preparation. But then, when I worked through the steps I’m going to share with you I was able to refocus and even have fun with the task at hand. I suddenly felt like self-doubt was an ally…heck it could even be a friend. I know there’s a lot of face-your-fear and “bust your self-doubt in the mouth” advice out there but these steps are simple, yet give you just enough to turn your self-doubt into confidence and get better results. The reason I think this is worth sharing is because if it resonates with you too, you’ll be able to call on it when you need it. And one more point before I share the steps…. A work day without a plan to deal with self-doubt…sucks. It sucks because your self-doubt can run rampant breaking down your confidence, making you question everything you’re doing, and can even result in a total stall out. And so what I’m going to give you today doesn’t rely on you remembering some long process or drawn out text book strategies. Instead, I’m providing a short cut to turning self-doubt into confidence in 3 steps. Here they are: Recognize the self-doubt Pay attention to what it’s telling you Take action Simple? Yes. Effective? You bet! But here’s the thing about these steps. Even if you only get one of the three steps, your work day will be a lot better. I’ll break down each step for you here. Step 1: Recognize the self-doubt Simply put “to doubt is human. Doubt is a basic human emotion that we all feel. Learn to recognize how it shows up for you and you’ll start to feel more at peace. You can notice self-doubt as that nagging inner voice that says “can I really do this?”. Or it can show-up physically as the tingle in your chest or the tightness in your back when you think about an upcoming presentation, a complicated project, or even a big tennis match. Instead of burying it or replacing it with some kind of fake confidence….try embracing it. Turns out, self-doubt even has some benefits: It let’s you know there’s something else to learn. It’s useful for your decision making process because it makes you more aware of the next step. When you express it to others, it helps you connect over a shared human experience. Step 2: Pay attention to what self-doubt is telling you Too often when people experience self-doubt it’s leads to negative thoughts like “this is going to be bad for me”. These thoughts can spiral out of control if left untended. Instead of defaulting to the thought that this could be bad, consider that self-doubt is just telling you to pay closer attention. What’s it telling your pay closer to attention too? What can you prepare for? Where do you need to focus most? What should you prioritize? What can you practice? Where can you let go? Step 3: Take action Taking action is the final step that turns your self-doubt into confidence. Once you’ve asked yourself what to pay closer attention to. It’s important to do something with that new understanding. Instead of investing your time in worry or analysis paralysis, try one of these actions to move you forward and boost your confidence: Learn something new Ask for help Practice the stuff that’s new And that’s it! Now if that feels a bit overwhelming to you, I want to remind you that “Rome wasn’t Built in a Day”. Again, you don’t have to adopt all three steps (although the combination is really potent). Even taking on one can make a big difference in your work day. Here’s an exercise for you: Where in your work are you experiencing self-doubt? Go through the steps above. See how it can increase your confidence level. Ben PS: Inspired by this article? Please open your email and send this article to at least 2 friends. It’s inspiring! Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you photo credit The post 3 Simple Steps to Turn Self-Doubt into Confidence first appeared on Ben Fanning.
15 minutes | Apr 28, 2014
6 Ways Your Freak Beats the Average Employee
Do you have a job but go about executing it like you own the place? Ever feel dissatisfied with the status quo or find yourself going above and beyond just make your office and organization better? If so, you may be an “employeepreneur” who owns and marshals the resources around them no matter their work environment. When I read about this in Chris Brogan’s new book, The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth, I felt like he was speaking directly to me and everyone else for that matter who receives the ignition tips newsletter and Weekly Spark podcast. Why Employeepreneurs have an Advantage Employeepreneurs sometimes turn out to be the “Freaks” at the office because they don’t seem to fit in and sometime are considered “out there”. They are less concerned about fitting in and prefer to stand out for their passion and enthusiasm. Chris makes the case that this gives them an advantage because they seek alignment between their own ambitions and those of their boss and organization. Chris’ assessment is that those who are willing to do things differently at work and stand out for the right reasons will have more success over the long haul. I agree! 6 Tips to Get Better Results than the Average Employee Guess, I’m a freak. You? There are lot helpful nuggets in this book, but I’m sharing a couple below that really resonated with me and can positively impact your work day immediately. #1. Construct your emails for brevity Use your email subject line to sum up what your email is actually about Limit your email to 350 words…anything more put below your signature Limit your questions in an email to 1 or provide a bullet list that can easily be responded to Phrase questions for a quick “yes” or “no” response #2. Use responsible words – somewhere along the way we’ve learned how to protect ourselves by sucking the responsibility out of our communication. Employeepreneur’s take responsibility willingly and openly. Instead of “I can’t do that” use “I’ll work it out” Instead of “I’m too busy” use “I know the priorities” Instead of “I sent an email and they never responded” use “I’ll call them” #3. Earn your way to the exciting projects Accept and conquer small projects Create your own projects Ask for crappy projects Take on bigger projects #4. Do the job that’s in front of you – when you get caught up with focusing on the next big promotion opportunity your work quality can suffer. Approach your daily work with full intention. #5. Reject the “not my job” mentality” – Practice caring less about what your job is technically and more about the bigger goal. Bold goals almost always go beyond the scope of your job…so lots of work that shouldn’t be your job actually becomes it. Embrace this idea and it can relieve a lot of frustration and yield bigger opportunities. #6. Find your way to your goal – Every Employeepreneur eventually faces the challenge of no funding, a new leader that doesn’t get it, or what appears to be a dead end. Proposing new ideas to “the leadership” and finding out that it isn’t viable solution is just part of the job. The the biggest win of an employeepreneur is taking ownership and finding your way to the goal by asking: What did you miss? Who else can help? What resources haven’t you thought to tap? So pick one of these tips of the employeepreneur and try it in your work day. What’s your story of being an employeepreneur? What’s challenges do you face? Please leave it in the comments below. Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you The post 6 Ways Your Freak Beats the Average Employee first appeared on Ben Fanning.
11 minutes | Apr 14, 2014
5 Steps to Nix Nasty Project Overwhelm
Often the most important projects at work and in our personal lives get complicated and overwhelming due to their size and scope. The result is that these paramount projects get put on the back burner and never completed. I’ve been facing this recently on my own big projects, and I’ve carried the burden of added stress, frustration, and my fair share of analysis paralysis. But in this process, I’ve discovered a simple exercise that’s made a big difference. Tackle that Overwhelming Project with Ease You can use this technique to tackle your own project overwhelm, ease your mind, and ultimately complete your project successfully. This technique can apply to any significant deliverable including: presentation creation book writing creating a budget and sticking to it cost savings initiatives revenue driving programs 5 Steps to Nix Nasty Project Overwhelm Use these 5 steps to create a quick and effective project plan to keep you organized as well as provide peace of mind. Get the clay on the wheel – Start by listing out all the actions you need to take. This is the “clay” and its important to get it out there without any hesitation or judgement…you’ll deal about the molding later. Enjoy this part by letting your mind go crazy with every itty-bitty actionable detail you can imagine. Consider using one of these tools to help you…. the free version of the mind mapping software, Mindmeister. Excel, Word, Evernote, or simply a legal pad and pen. Group your actions by category – After the you’ve written down all your work actions, identify 3-5 overarching categories to add structure. Then quickly group them by moving your actions beneath the best corresponding category. A benefit of this part of the process is that often when you group them by category you’ll find duplicate actions that you can consolidate or remove entirely. Put them in a logical sequence – Under each category, put each action in a logical sequence. I like to number them sequentially. Assign a time requirement – Simply classify each action as a half day, day, or week activity. Most activities seem to take longer than expected so that’s why I like to round them up to at least a half day. Assign dates – Assign dates starting from the date you’d like the total project complete and then work backwards to the beginning. Compress your project time line by identifying activities that you can overlap, delegate, or collaborate on. So try the five steps above for your next project and notice how it reduces the overwhelm. Use your newly created plan as a template to speed up your process for future projects. So what’s your story around project overwhelm and how did you handle it? Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you The post 5 Steps to Nix Nasty Project Overwhelm first appeared on Ben Fanning.
16 minutes | Apr 7, 2014
The 7 Best Times to Ask for a Pay Raise
When’s the best time to ask for a pay raise? I used to believe it’s when: you’ve had a good annual review the company’s had a great year you’ve achieved a length-of-service milestone like a 5 or 10-year anniversary While these certainly can work out, it “pays” to be much more strategic in your approach. Timing is Everything when Asking for a Pay Raise Carl Lewis, who won 10 Olympic Gold Medals, said… “Life is about Timing”…and this happens to apply beautifully to asking for a pay raise. Ask at the right time and you’ll be rewarded with an open conversation about your compensation and maybe even get the pay raise you want. Ask at the wrong time and maybe you’ll get a blank stare, a “let’s talk about this later”, or just a flat “No”. The right conversation at the wrong time, becomes the wrong conversation. So if getting a raise is more about timing than anything else, then consider initiating it in one of these moments… The 7 Best Times to Bring up the Raise Conversation with Your Boss The “Promotion” – It’s a great time to talk about a raise when you know you’re getting one already. For example, when you get a promotion with more responsibility open the discussion around an additional raise and request information on what your future raise potential is in store for the new role. The “Needle Mover” – This is when your results on a project have been big enough to noticeably impact your organization’s bottom-line. This is the kind of “needle mover” that’s a golden opportunity to discuss a raise. The “Glitz” – Some wins may not impact the bottom-line directly but do generate lots of glitz and visibility at higher levels of the organization. This could be delivering on your boss’ special project, leading an outreach project with a non profit, or providing positive media attention. The “Scope Creep” – This is when you’ve increased the scope of your responsibilities but not your job title. This opportunity frequently occurs when a team member leaves for another job and your boss asks you to step in and take over their responsibilities. The “Department Change “ – Another good time to bring up a pay raise is when you transition to another department. You see, your new department is benefiting because they aren’t having to go outside the company to hire. This can be a major win for your new department because you’ll be working at full speed much faster than an external higher plus there’s a lot less risk involved because you’re a proven entity in the organization The “Leverage” – When you’ve got leverage its usually time to have the pay raise conversation. This applies when you’re seriously considering a job at another organization and you’ve got little to lose by asking for a raise. The “Advance” (the most overlooked) – The biggest raises often happen when you change companies. Take this pay raise strategy to the next level by asking for your next raise in advance of starting at your new job. Try requesting a guaranteed pay increase based upon your first year’s performance. While asking for a pay raise doesn’t guarantee one, it often increases the probability. Sometimes just “planting the seed” in a conversation with your boss can lead to one down the road. So when’s a time you thought you deserved a pay raise but didn’t get it? How did you handle it? Share in the comments below. Ben Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you Comments and questions from the Podcast come from John E Smith, CEO and Chief Evangelist at Break the Equation and David Ducheyne, Chief People Officer at Securex.The post The 7 Best Times to Ask for a Pay Raise first appeared on Ben Fanning.
14 minutes | Mar 31, 2014
Great Review but a Tiny Pay Raise
Ever faced the frustration of getting a great annual review but only a tiny pay raise? If so, you’re not alone. Pay raise frustration is a common problem. Betsy, a subscriber to this newsletter and one of our tribe members, recently wrote to me about her frustration of getting another great annual review but only a small 3 percent raise. I’ve been through this myself, and I’m happy to say that you can relieve your frustration, plan a more effective strategy, and strut into your annual review with more confidence. I’ll share how. Shocked by my Tiny Raise after a Great Review Betsy’s situation reminded me of sitting through my first annual review after college. I’d gotten really positive feedback and was expecting an amazing raise. Then my heart sank in disappointment when my boss slid a 3 percent raise across the table. I suspect he saw the shock on my face, so he spent the next 15 minutes explaining how it was “pretty good” compared to the raises others had received. I left stunned and thinking how did my great results translate into just a 3 percent raise? Are You Making What You Made Last Year? This 3 percent raise hit me hard, and it felt even worse when a corporate veteran shared that his pay raise expectation from a great review was only to make what he made last year. …translation he expected a pay raise just big enough to keep up with inflation. I found this pretty depressing as no one prepared me for the reality that the national pay raise was only going to be between 3-4.5 percent. 2000 to 2008, the average raise was between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent 2009 to 2011 – 3 percent 2012 – 2012 – 3 percent 2014 – the average pay raise is expected to be 3 percent Inflation hovers between 1.5 percent and 3 percent, so if you’re not at least getting a 3 percent pay raise each year then it starts to feel your pay is actually decreasing. 5 Strategies when You Get a Great Review, but a Tiny Raise When I accepted this pay raise reality, I dove into understanding the pay raise process better and then learned to make more strategic moves. Turns out getting a great review can be a great time to discuss a bigger pay raise but there are also some other strategies that can help you far more. Set the stage for a bigger raise – In most cases the “cake’s been baked” well before your annual review. So I don’t recommend negotiating a pay raise during your review. Use that time to set the stage for a future pay raise based on value added activities and broader responsibilities. Make your boss an advocate – When I eventually became a boss, I quickly learned that I didn’t have very much control over my employee’s pay raises. While I graded their performance, pay raises were affected by pay grades and pay bands set by HR and also decisions made at the executive level. With this in mind, channeling frustration at your boss isn’t that helpful. It’s far more effective to enroll your boss to advocate on your behalf so they can “sell” your raise to the rest of the organization. Talk about the Taboo – “Pay raise” is a taboo topic in so many offices, and it takes courage to even mention the words. If pay raises are only discussed once a year then no wonder it’s so awkward at review time. If you feel like you’ve been delivering on results for a while and not seeing the results in your paycheck then consider gently opening the conversation. Ask questions and build your understanding about how pay raises are conducted and what the process requires. Quantify – Your pay raise potential is linked as much to your future results as it is to past results. Quantify the financial impact of your most recent results, then make sure to quantify the impact of your upcoming projects as well. Strive to link them back to increased revenue or reduced costs. Be flexible – Be prepared for the response that a pay raise just isn’t realistic. If that’s the case think through other possible benefits that may be within your boss’ control like a more flexible schedule, additional time-off, working from home, or leading an interesting project. Ben So when’s a time that you’ve had a great review but a tiny raise? What did you do about it? Please share in the comments below. Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you The post Great Review but a Tiny Pay Raise first appeared on Ben Fanning.
14 minutes | Mar 27, 2014
When SMART Goals Fail Do This
What’s the biggest reason people fail in reaching their most important goals? I used to believe that they didn’t set them up correctly in the first place but turned out I was missing something huge. In both my personal and professional goal setting, I’ve used a format called the SMART criteria that I learned in B-School from studying Peter Drucker. The main advantage being that you create goals you understand and ones that you’re confident you can achieve. Here’s a quick recap on what the SMART goal criteria is: Specific – What’s your goal clearly stated in 1-2 sentences? Measurable – What’s your preferable scoreboard to track your progress? Attainable – How can you tweak it just enough that you’re pushed to achieve it but also you ensure your success? Relevant – What action can you take to make your goal relevant to yourself and those around you? Time-Bound – When’s the clear time you’re going to have this done? But When SMART Goals Fail Even though organizations and scores of HR departments across the globe use this same goal setting criteria, they run into the same problem. People don’t make their goals and it’s costly to every one involved. I’ve spent hours crafting my goals using the SMART criteria, only to watch myself fail in achieving them. I could use a litany of excuses but the truth is that SMART criteria is incomplete. Your Most Important Goal Gets Whacked I recently bit off one of the biggest goals I’ve ever taken on personally (and believe me, I can’t wait to share it with you soon). It’s pushed me beyond what I ever thought I’d be capable of doing and so many mornings I just didn’t think I could continue. Though I’d used the SMART goal criteria, it wasn’t enough to keep me waking up every morning at 5 am to work on it, especially when I had so many competing priorities. Too often the biggest, most important goals get whacked in the name of more urgent needs. Thus the goals that would make the biggest difference in your life just roll to next year. Ever happen to you? Add 1 Powerful Element to Your SMART Goal Criteria When this happens, you need the energy and motivation to keep going. You need a reason why. Clarifying ‘why’ gives you a much deeper emotional connection to your goal. It helps you dig-in and keep going when times get tough. So I propose ending your SMART goal criteria with a big “W’ that stands for why the heck this goal is really important in the first place. ‘Why’ Helped Me Start Waking Up at 5 am For my big project, it took me a few iterations until I landed on the ‘Why’ that worked for me. It went like this: “To do more of what I love doing like coaching and speaking to groups and at conferences.” This felt okay but it didn’t really motivate me for such a huge undertaking, and it felt a little self-serving. “To inspire others with a clear message that changes the world.” This felt great, but it also seemed a little faceless and really too big to keep me going on a daily basis. “To create something that will inspire my daughter one day when she grows up.” Bingo! I could wake-up at 5 am for that on a consistent basis. I hope you’ll feel the same way when I share this project with you soon. 5 Questions to Help You Reach Your SMART Goal So to help you build your motivation and energy for attaining your biggest goal, consider these five questions: For who or what’s sake is this goal important? What gift does reaching it represent for you, your family, your coworkers, and your organization? What’s the happiness and joy it will generate? Who will you high-five first? Who will you share your first smile with when its done? What’s the consequence you’re not willing to accept if you don’t hit it? Why? In the comments below, please share your biggest professional or personal goal for the year. What’s your first shot at ‘Why’? Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you The post When SMART Goals Fail Do This first appeared on Ben Fanning.
20 minutes | Mar 18, 2014
10 Easier Alternatives to Work Life Balance
To create the job you love without quitting, it’s important to weave together your personal life and professional life. Most people talk about this as achieving work-life balance or learning to compartmentalize, but I don’t like either very much. Work-life balancing is stressful and too much work. Once life is balanced there’s always another fire drill at work or a change at home like a sick child that throws everything out of balance again. Compartmentalizing work and your personal life creates far too many identities to keep up with and doesn’t feel very authentic. It’s far more helpful to consider integrating your professional and personal life. When I discovered this approach I found a lot more: Authenticity – Showing up differently at the office than who you really are can feel like you’re selling your soul to the devil. When you bring the real you to the office it feels much more authentic. I discovered incredible benefits when I brought the gentle Ben that interacts with his baby, plus the confident Ben that smashes a forehand on the tennis court, and the relaxed Ben from Yoga class; all to the office. Momentum – You establish a lot of momentum when you bring all the aspects of your personality to work. I felt a lot less tired at the end of the work week. Ease – Its easier to show up when you’re not keeping the best part of you on the sidelines like sense of humor, your caring side, your direct communication style, etc…Tackling difficult conversations and challenges at work, all become much easier to deal with and overcome. In this podcast, I’m covering the big lie about work-life balance, why compartmentalizing kills your work mojo and then 10 alternatives to work-life balance: Risk a different conversation at work and at home. Ask about your coworkers weekends, families, and vacations. Go beyond the “fine” in describing how your work day went to your family. Recognize the best time for you to work on certain activities regardless if personal of business. Consider taking care of personal business during your work day especially if you’re on email working after hours anyway. Clarify expectations for working at home on nights and weekends with the family as well as you boss to reduce the friction. Evaluate the different sides of you that you may be keeping from the office and your home Take your body somewhere else when you get stuck. Move your office or your meeting temporarily to a different location. Schedule a customer or supplier meeting with a trainer. Instead of scheduling a big meal for next meeting try doing something fun and active. Have a meeting with a coworker on a treadmill or take a walk outside (Steve Jobs Style). According to his biography, Jobs closed some of his biggest deals and made his most celebrated hires while taking walks around Palo Alto. Establish a “work win” board at home so the entire family can celebrate wins from work and school. Take your personal pictures to work. Go beyond your family and friends and share your vacation. Give your family members a sound byte about what you do at work so they feel comfortable describing it to their friends. Ask for one from them so you can share it at work. So what’s your story of dealing with work-life balance? Please share in the comments. Subscribe, Rate, Review in iTunes Valuable, No-Cost Resources Download Now - Learn the strategies to ignite your career We hate spam just as much as you Image CreditThe post 10 Easier Alternatives to Work Life Balance first appeared on Ben Fanning.
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